10 Nov 2022

Campaign sells West Coast as natural choice for health workers

11:06 am on 10 November 2022

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne says the campaign took a different approach to attract much-needed health workers. Photo:

The West Coast is trying to entice health workers keen for a bit more adventure in their lives to become Coasters.

The recruitment campaign is a collaboration between Te Whatu Ora and Development West Coast.

When registered social worker Bessy Anish moved to Greymouth in 2018, she knew barely anything about the West Coast, just that it rained a lot.

"It's very calm and quiet and very peaceful here, and very good people."

While she has been out of the city and off the beaten path for years, she said there were plenty of opportunities to progress her career, including moving around different wards.

"You can get skills in each area so you can be an all-rounder. You can get experience in every field and wherever they're needed, they can call you. That I find really good for my professional development."

The campaign is aimed to attract more health professionals like Bessy to ditch the traffic and crowds, and move to the Coast.

Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne said it wanted to come up with something a bit different.

The campaign video encouraged anyone keen to become a 'weekday warrior' exploring the tracks, rivers, beaches and mountains, not just a 'weekend warrior', to consider the move.

"The whole world is after healthcare workers and other workers, so it's a bit quirky and it's focusing on people who might fit in with the West Coast as opposed to focusing on what they are going to do when they get here."

They needed the workers yesterday.

"The need is now. We know that when we started there was 50 vacancies for nurses alone on the Coast. There are other healthcare workers that are required as well so hey, the target is as many as we can get."

Development West Coast wants to expand the campaign to include other sectors in the coming months.

"The total population of the Coast is 32,000. If I had to put a figure on it, I could say it's between 500 and 1000 jobs are available here on the Coast."

That included seasonal roles.

Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini has more than 60 vacancies for full-time equivalents staff across nursing and allied health, as well as GPs, psychiatrists, and midwives.

Generic photo of southern alps from near fairlie

The West Coast scenery is a drawcard for workers to the region. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

General manager Philip Wheble said it was trying to reduce the impact on patients as much as possible.

"The commitments of our staff, they're really wanting to make sure that the services are as best as we can provide for the community.

"There's more impact in some areas than other areas and the staff are working hard to make sure that we can still provide the services, maybe in just a slightly different way."

That could involve moving patients in the region.

The campaign was about offering opportunities for not just workers, but their whanau as well, he said.

"If you enjoy the outdoors, if you enjoy not having to spend a whole lot of time in traffic, if you enjoy small teams that are really innovative, then the Coast is the right place for them."

More than 20 health professionals have already expressed interest within a few weeks of the campaign launching.

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